Hydrogen-powered aviation


In June 2020, the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking and the Clean Sky Joint Undertaking published their report “Hydrogen-powered aviation – A fact-based study on hydrogen technology, economics, and climate impact by 2050.” H2-international took advantage of the opportunity to ask FCH JU executive director Bart Biebuyck the following two questions:

Does your study consider the Cryoplane study findings, published in 2000 and supported by 35 European institutions?


Not directly, although when compiling the new study we specifically bade consortia to take previous publications and findings into account.

Why the new report?

There are several reasons for conducting a new study. For one, today’s cheap clean energy resources and inexpensive electrolyzer technology have greatly reduced hydrogen prices compared to 20 years ago. Fuel cells, too, have made a big leap forward in terms of cost, durability and output. Technological advances have altered both per capita and total cost of ownership. Reliable, accurate and up-to-date cost estimates are most decisive.

Also, the new study gave us a unique opportunity to gather all stakeholders together, regardless of their argumentations pro or con hydrogen-powered aviation. To be honest, opinions varied highly prior to the study and I believe it has brought about a much greater alignment.

In addition, the European Commission must prepare the next research program. Our study maps out quite specifically the research required to attain renewable hydrogen-powered, zero-emission aviation across the European Union. A most useful route toward funding the right projects.

And then, on the political front, there’s the Paris Agreement and the European Green Deal – no doubt, we urgently need bold action.

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